Thinkers and Identity

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Explain how the four thinkers discussed in term one understand the notion of identity
Hegel understands identity through the notion of self-consciousness, which he argues “exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another; that is, it exists only in being acknowledged” (Hegel:p111). So Hegel believed in order to know who we are we need the recognition of another, we therefore need to be acknowledged to have an identity. He then goes on to talk about the struggle for recognition, which takes place when the self and the other come together, in doing so making self-consciousness possible (OnlineSparknotes:2011). Hegel explains the realisation of self-conscious as a struggle for recognition between two individuals, who are bound together in an unequal relationship of dependence. So in order for an individual to know they exist they must enter into a life and death struggle with a second conscious this struggle has to be to the death because in risking its life the self is demonstrating it rational status, “that it has power over the realm of mere biological life and its animal desires” (Beiser:2005,p187) however in doing this the self-conscious has to realise that by eliminating its other they will in effect be eliminating them self also, because without them both there would be no one to be recognised by. Therefore the only solution is for one to dominate over the other by reducing it to a ‘thing like’ status. Hegel explains this process using the Lord and the Bondsman, the bondsman becomes an object to the lord whose purpose is to serve all his wants and needs, his purpose therefore is to be a labourer his ‘labour is his being’ (Marcuse:1969,p.116). At the same time the lord, by reducing the bondsman to a thing rather than treating him as his equal the lord is effectively denying himself the recognition his own self-conscious requires. The…...

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